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What to Know About Air Purifiers

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 02, 2021

Bad air quality can be detrimental to your lung health. But it can be hard to know exactly how bad it is, especially in your own home. Simply put, improved indoor air quality will help you breathe better. 

Air cleaning devices such as air purifiers help improve the quality of your indoor air by removing or reducing pollutants and allergens. These substances may worsen symptoms of allergies or asthma. They may also contribute to more serious lung conditions and even certain cancers.

What Do Air Purifiers Do?

An air purifier draws in indoor air and passes it through a filter. The filter gathers pollutants and pushes clean air back into the room. Some air purifiers are designed to remove specific contaminants such as dust, mold, or pet dander. They also help filter out smoke or unpleasant odors in your home or business.

There are some pollutants you should be concerned about as a homeowner or tenant, including:‌‌

  • Combustion byproducts such as tobacco smoke or carbon monoxide ‌
  • Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas
  • Pet dander
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Pesticides
  • Lead
  • Asbestos‌

How Do I Know If I Need an Air Purifier?

When you breathe in pollutants, you may get symptoms such as:‌

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy or sore throat
  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory disease
  • Asthma‌‌‌

What Are the Benefits of an Air Purifier?

Having an air purifier in your home or office:

  • Helps reduce symptoms for people with seasonal allergies or asthma
  • Filters smoke or odors from a room
  • Lowers your risk of getting sick

Air cleaning devices such as an air purifier may help reduce your risk of developing respiratory illnesses and even certain cancers.

Are Air Purifiers Safe?

Yes. However, no air cleaning device or filter can eliminate all of the air pollutants in your home.

To get the most out of your air purifier, follow these tips:‌

  • Position it well: If you just have one unit, put it in the room where you spend the most time. Place your air purifier in an open area.
  • Clean or replace filters regularly: Clean filters or replace them every 6 to 12 months, depending on the type of filter and how dirty they are. ‌

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Consumer Reports: “Air Purifier Buying Guide.”

Indoor Air: "On the history of indoor air quality and health." 

United States Environmental Protection Agency: “Air Cleaners and Air Filters in the Home,” “Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home,” “Indoor Air Quality.”

University of Massachusetts Amherst: “Air Purifiers Fact Sheet.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Air Filters, Dehumidifiers, and Humidifiers.”

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